Episode 100: Decoding English

In this special 100th episode, we review the major consonant sound changes that have impacted English since the Proto-Indo-European language.  These sound changes provide us with a set of general rules that we can use to distinguish loanwords from native Old English words.

18 thoughts on “Episode 100: Decoding English

  1. Well done, Kevin; a remarkable achievement.
    The podcast has changed my understanding of the English language, its history, and its origins, and has been both a help and an inspiration in my teaching job.
    Thank you, congratulations and I look forward to hearing you continue the story.

  2. Happy 100! It’s been an amazing series to this point and I’m eager to hear what’s ahead. One question about Old English sounds: The gn and kn consonant clusters were originally pronounced. What about the wr in write or wright? Was it more of a breathy r or was it a w sound followed by an r?

    • As far as I know, the WR spelling in Old English represent a slight /w/ sound before the R. That /w/ sound has generally disappeared over time.

      • Thanks! I like trying to pronounce Old English words with what we believe was approximately their original sound. I’ve never been quite sure about wr. My interest in that particular consonant cluster stems from my last name partly, but also because of write. So, thanks for that answer.

  3. 100 episodes! Congratulations! I have thoroughly enjoyed the podcast and I am looking forward to the next 100 episodes! Keep up the good work!

  4. Just came across your podcast this week by accident it’s brilliant, I can’t believe you were under my radar. Congratulations.

    • Thanks! Glad you discovered the podcast. Be sure to start from the beginning because the podcast is structured chronologically. I hope you enjoy the entire series!

  5. Pingback: The History of English Podcast – Grammar Logic and Rhetoric

  6. It is wonderful that the language took centre stage again. I enjoy the history of the monarchs but I come here for the development of the language.

    • Thanks! My goal is to provide the historical context for the changing nature of English, but sometimes I like to focus solely on the language.

  7. I’ve been listening from the beginning and just reached this episode, Congrats! I look forward to the content to come!

    I’m particularly interested to hear once you get to your dialect research. I myself am from Ontario, Canada and often Canadian accents are dramatized in television, most commonly representing an eastern Canadian accent I believe. It would be interesting to know more about the roots and unique traits of our accents.

    Another note, I just returned from a trip to Liberia, Africa where the primary language is English. While they read and write common English they speak a dialect they call Liberian English. For a while I thought they were speaking an entirely different language! On this trip I was listening to your podcast and it made me wonder if you’ve gathered any information for Africa. Interestingly Liberia was never apart of the commonwealth.

    Thanks to your podcast I have a new understanding and outlook on the relationship between language, history and geography!

    Keep up the good work!



    • Thanks for the feedback. I believe that Liberia speaks English because it was once a US colony. Anyway, I will definitely try to explore the expansion of English into Africa, the South Pacific, and other parts of the world when I get to the Modern English period. I recently did a bonus episode at Patreon about modern English pidgins in the South Pacific. I would love to get more voice samples from these regions.

      With respect to modern English accents in Canada, US, Britain, Australia, etc., I am going to try to explore those developments as much as I can. That is why I am collecting voice samples. Stay tuned!

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